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Get bombed, 67% of the time.
November 20, 2003 7:38 AM   Subscribe

That makes four bombings in the last six days in Turkey. Pro-intervention or anti-invasion, I can't tell what I think anymore.
posted by Leonard (105 comments total)

 
Your either with us or with the terrorists. It is just that simple. (black and white political snark)
posted by stbalbach at 7:49 AM on November 20, 2003


My brother was in Istanbul this morning (he's OK, but clearly rattled, as am I). Meanwhile in London, I've just been down to Trafalgar Square, where the anti-war muppets are having fun with chalks and Marvin Gaye lyrics on the paving stones, and a gaggle of geeky Young Conservatives are on the corner making pro-Bush chants, then scuttling away stuffing their flags away lest anyone engage them in debate or fisticuffs...

Now, outside my office I can hear the tidal crash of the march through town and the gull-calls of their whistles. I don't know what to think. Bush, Blair, Saddam and Bin Laden, then can all just go home/fuck off and die for all I care today. My brother has been metres away from joining the poor souls suffering from the rich boys scuffling. I have a sick tension in the back of my throat.
posted by klaatu at 7:55 AM on November 20, 2003


Well Bush wanted a war, he's still got one. I don't expect much from a guy who went AWOL and a Madison Ave. type like Rove.
posted by Bag Man at 8:00 AM on November 20, 2003


then can all just go home/fuck off and die for all I care today

that's the dunkirk spirit.
posted by johnnyboy at 8:02 AM on November 20, 2003


Yes, by all means your first and primary anger should be directed at Bush and Blair. Never mind the sick fucks who drive vans into buildings (hmmm ... kind of sounds like "sick fucks who fly planes into skyscrapers) with the intention of killing as many civilians as possible. Heck, this kind of thing never would have happened before the Iraq war!
posted by pardonyou? at 8:04 AM on November 20, 2003


Bag Man, let's not be disingenuous here - these attacks have been happening since long before the Iraq war, and the "Bush wanted a war and now he's got one" argument is simply stupid. Bush started a counteroffensive, that's all. He may have made strategic errors (Iraq may have been one) but it's a counteroffensive nonetheless.

Unless, of course, you think nothing happened in:
Chechnya, Somalia, Kenya, on the high sea (USS Cole), Washington DC and New York to name a very few.

Bush wanted a war and now he's got one?

How about the opposite - "Militant Islam" wanted a war, and they're bringing one, whether you want it or not.
posted by swerdloff at 8:14 AM on November 20, 2003


klaatu - glad your bro is okay.
posted by vito90 at 8:14 AM on November 20, 2003


Ditto what vito90 said. Klaatu - glad your brother is ok.
posted by swerdloff at 8:16 AM on November 20, 2003


Thanks vito90 and swerdloff - much appreciated.

And thanks pardonyou? for assigning my primary anger. I needed the focus.
posted by klaatu at 8:20 AM on November 20, 2003


Klaatu, I'm glad your brother is OK.

The reason there is a march today is that many of us believe that there would not have been any explosions in Istanbul this week if it wasn't for the actions of Bush and Blair. I appreciate how you're sick of the whole thing, but guess what, so are the rest of us. London or Washington may be next, God help us. If that happens, then the direst predictions of the anti-war crowd will have come true.
posted by salmacis at 8:24 AM on November 20, 2003


There are sick fucks all over the world that are willing blow themselves up for whatever cause they have. Bush didn't need to challenge them by saying "bring 'em on" and invading a country that we didn't need to invade. So yes I think it's totally justifiable to be more pissed off at Bush. Bush said that dealing with Iraq would make attacks fewer, turns out it's been the ultimate rerouting tool for Al-Quada and attacks are being seen where they weren't before. Seems to me that attacking Iraq is starting to destabilize that part of the world, not make it more secure. We've just been totally playing into the hands of the terrorists all the way.

And on a side note, I'm glad to hear your brother is ok as well, klaatu.
posted by whirlwind29 at 8:27 AM on November 20, 2003


The reason there is a march today is that many of us believe that there would not have been any explosions in Istanbul this week if it wasn't for the actions of Bush and Blair.

Of course then one could ask what were the actions of Bush and Blair that caused the attacks on the WTC?
posted by PenDevil at 8:28 AM on November 20, 2003


Bag Man, let's not be disingenuous here - these attacks have been happening since long before the Iraq war, and the "Bush wanted a war and now he's got one" argument is simply stupid. Bush started a counteroffensive, that's all. He may have made strategic errors (Iraq may have been one) but it's a counteroffensive nonetheless.

The grpups that were attacted in Turkey are two groups that are rarely attacked, and now they get attacked? Do the math. In fact, the stated reason for last week's attack was the war in Iraq; again do the math...I guess you are one of those people who doesn't let facts get in the way of your dogma.

Counter attack? - I never recall Iraq helping terrorists (even Bush has diened this) or attacking the US, please, permeative war is terrorism.

Sure these facts can get your noe-con mind.
posted by Bag Man at 8:32 AM on November 20, 2003


klaatu, I hope I didn't offend -- I was really responding to Bag Man. And I'm also very glad to hear your brother's OK.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:32 AM on November 20, 2003


pardonyou? - check.

Thanks, salmacis, but it was just a wobble. Just been onto the roof, and did a quick approximation of how many people are marching - it's much more than I thought...

I guess what I was trying to articulate was my distaste at the simplification of such a mess by both sides of the debate, but primarily the pro Blash/Buir side, on a morning when my feelings had been complicated. Watching the press conference by them earlier and listening to the empty rhetoric... It's the insults to intelligence in all of this that boil my blood.

What to do about that though? Log on, friend, log on...
posted by klaatu at 8:36 AM on November 20, 2003


My real post (sorry):

Bag Man, let's not be disingenuous here - these attacks have been happening since long before the Iraq war, and the "Bush wanted a war and now he's got one" argument is simply stupid. Bush started a counteroffensive, that's all. He may have made strategic errors (Iraq may have been one) but it's a counteroffensive nonetheless.

The groups that got attacted in Turkey in the are two groups that are rarely attacked in Turkey (according to NRP - if don't belive the the right-wing's media rants), and now they get attacked? Do the math. In fact, the stated reason for last week's attack was the war in Iraq; again do the math...I guess you are one of those people who doesn't let facts get in the way of your dogma.

Counter attack? - I never recalled Iraq helping terrorists (even Bush has admitted this) or attacking the US, please, permeative war is terrorism.

Surely those facts can get your noe-con mind.
posted by Bag Man at 8:45 AM on November 20, 2003


Bush started a counteroffensive, that's all. He may have made strategic errors (Iraq may have been one) but it's a counteroffensive nonetheless.

I've always said that after Germany invaded Poland that Britain should have declared war on both Germany and Ecuador. For some reason people always think this position is ludicrous. What do you think swerdloff?
posted by biffa at 8:52 AM on November 20, 2003


In times like this, I think it is useful to look back in history especially recent history of terrorist activities, trying to understand the motivations behind that kind of attacks, the strategy and the tactics, and the historical outcomes of terrorist activities.

An excellent container of related links is the definition of Terrorism on WikiPedia.

Also from the same source, the Reign of Terror which was a period in the history of the French Revolution characterized by the brutal repression of those suspected of being counterrevolutionary, which in other words is to rule by the means of instilling terror by randomly accusing somebody of being -against- the higher ideals of Revolution.
posted by elpapacito at 8:55 AM on November 20, 2003


Surely those facts can get your noe-con mind.

Wow, anyone who might have conflicts with you about what to do about terrorism is a "neo-con" or excuse me "noe-con." (by the way, he'll "do the math" when you do your spelling.

I guess you are one of those people who doesn't let facts get in the way of your dogma...permeative war is terrorism.

Yes, and we're all evil Americans who eat burgers made of ground up Iraqi babies while driving SUV's full of Toby Keith records. Get a new writer, please.

Look, I don't think the war in Iraq is a good idea either, but terrorism is a real problem. Real people, Americans and others are getting killed. I have yet to see any suggestions on how we're going to do anything about it besides platitudes on one side and Kill 'Em All on the other.

Simple fact is both the military and political wings of our governments have a role to play in staving it off, but that would be too much for some people.

Feel free to return to the usual tired bullshit.
posted by jonmc at 8:56 AM on November 20, 2003


Counter attack? - I never recalled Iraq helping terrorists (even Bush has admitted this) or attacking the US, please, permeative war is terrorism.

Im glad someone is big enough to express their ignorance. Bagman, here is a start.
ABU NIDAL
posted by clavdivs at 9:07 AM on November 20, 2003


The grpups [sic] that were attacted [sic] in Turkey are two groups that are rarely attacked

Huh? Places where Jews congregate are rarely attacked? Have I misunderstood your assertion? If I haven't, you might want to read this Hitchen's piece in Slate.
posted by gwint at 9:12 AM on November 20, 2003


I spent much of the summer in Turkey. Believe me, this type of terrorism shocks Turks in much the same way that 9/11 shocked Americans. The message is being sent that Turks as a nation will pay for their tolerance and secularism. Of course the senders of the message are a despicable, cowardly bunch of bastards.

What is interesting is that Istanbul has a Refat (Islamic Social Welfare Party) city government. A lot of Turks said that the reason fundamentalists hadn't become a major threat in Turkey was that they saw that they could advance within the existing political system. They were not a frustrated bunch. Which is why the source of these attacks are all the more puzzling. This isn't something as simple as "disgruntled Muslim fundamentalists."

Turkey functions essentially as a police state with democratic structures. The police presence in that neighborhood (Beyoglu - 5 minutes walk from Neve Shalom, just down the street from the French Lycee.) is intense even in peaceful times. More security and cops than I have ever seen outside of Jerusalem, and that is on a normal day.

Preliminary news from Turkey implies that one of last week's synagogue bombers was a Turk who had fought in Bosnia and Chechnya. Yes, I do smell an Al Qaida rat here someplace.
posted by zaelic at 9:35 AM on November 20, 2003


Huh? Places where Jews congregate are rarely attacked?

In Turkey they are, but then again it is just like a neo-con to lump all Muslims into on group. The Turkish have historically been friends of my people and I thank them for that. However these attacks are not of the homegrown verity, they are, as the those who attacked stated, in response to the war. Wake up and small the facts, and ditch you straw-man.

Wow, anyone who might have conflicts with you about what to do about terrorism is a "neo-con" or excuse me "noe-con." [Sic] (by the way, he'll "do the math" when you do your spelling.
Look, I don't think the war in Iraq is a good idea either, but terrorism is a real problem. Real people, Americans and others are getting killed. I have yet to see any suggestions on how we're going to do anything about it besides platitudes on one side and Kill 'Em All on the other.

Simple fact is both the military and political wings of our governments have a role to play in staving it off, but that would be too much for some people.

Feel free to return to the usual tired bullshit


First, please feel free to debate on the issues, and not my a mistaken post. Why do attack my spelling? I corrected the post, or can't neo-cons read? Or do lack good argument so must anything you can. The war in Iraq was cause a lot of terror recently, Bush caused the war in Iraq, what part of logic don't neo-cons get? The same old bullshit, that label is applied to your entire argument. Then again, Rove is smart to start a war to cause terrorism just in the time to elections.
posted by Bag Man at 9:36 AM on November 20, 2003


Please stop typing with your elbows, Bag Man. It makes it harder to make fun of your overheated, obnoxious rhetoric.
posted by jonmc at 9:40 AM on November 20, 2003


Please stop typing with your elbows, Bag Man. It makes it harder to make fun of your overheated, obnoxious rhetoric.

At least you admit you have no argument and must make fun of your opponents, typical right-wring B.S.

Just do the math...we bomb them...they get mad...they bomb us...we bomb them again...etc...
posted by Bag Man at 9:47 AM on November 20, 2003


I'm glad that the region is finally seeing a peaceful period, a predicted consequence of the war on terror waged by the broad coalition against the neighboring country; which as we all know, switched quickly and gracefully to a perfectly stabilized democracy as well. You just watch as the domestic economy skyrockets next.

/and if not ... BRING 'EM ON!
posted by magullo at 9:52 AM on November 20, 2003


Abu Nidal? I don't know how long they let him stay there, but they ultimately let him commit suicide by shooting himself in the back of the head. Several times.

And yeah, probably to cover themselves, and not because they couldn't come up with the cash for a down payment on some beachfront property in Cuba. Anyway, check out these references to him in this book.
posted by trondant at 9:55 AM on November 20, 2003


Never mind the sick fucks who drive vans into buildings (hmmm ... kind of sounds like "sick fucks who fly planes into skyscrapers) with the intention of killing as many civilians as possible. Heck, this kind of thing never would have happened before the Iraq war!

This kind of thing didn't happen before the Iraq war. Then Reagan kept giving Iran and Saddam more weapons.

But let me guess, you meant the Iraq war where Rumsfeld wasn't shaking the hands of mass-murderers. Sorry. You were saying something about who's responsible for all this?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:56 AM on November 20, 2003


Bag Man, stop. Please. Just stop. You spray labels like "neo-con" and "right-wing" around without the slightest idea of whether they're accurate (which I'm confident they're not in the case of jonmc and swerdloff).

Just do the math...we bomb them...they get mad...they bomb us...we bomb them again...etc...

There's just one little flaw in your logic: the assumption that if we didn't "bomb them," they wouldn't "get mad" and "bomb us." al qaeda has a stated goal of attacking Western interests wherever and whenever it can. Before we ever "bombed them" that included, at a minimum, Tanzania, Kenya, Yemen, and the U.S. Now it's Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:04 AM on November 20, 2003


You just watch as the domestic economy skyrockets next.

uh, it is
posted by probablysteve at 10:04 AM on November 20, 2003


What should you think? How about that those protesters of President Bush are spoiled, dellusional royal assholes.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:07 AM on November 20, 2003


But let me guess, you meant the Iraq war where Rumsfeld wasn't shaking the hands of mass-murderers. Sorry. You were saying something about who's responsible for all this?

That's right, I forgot that once you supported a government you were barred from ever opposing that government, even 20 years later. Even if you were mistaken, even if circumstances change dramatically, you're estopped from taking action.

"Man, that Hussein guy is awful. Too bad I shook hands with him 20 years ago, or we could do something about it."
posted by pardonyou? at 10:08 AM on November 20, 2003


right, cover themselves. one theory is that Abu Nidal did not want to train al-queda and other terrorists at Salam Pak so saddam said by-bye with bullets.

also, see about saddams relations with carlos the jackal.
posted by clavdivs at 10:14 AM on November 20, 2003


And an asshole on a pedestal: the Mayor of London. He is a disgrace.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:15 AM on November 20, 2003


Umm, not to make too fine a point of it, when the US joined the war in world war two, which country did they invade first?

Germany?

Hmm, no, it wasn't Germany.

Ecuador? No, of course not, there wasn't even tangential relevance to the war down in Ecuador - contra a country that harbored known terrorists and attacked US warplanes in contravention of UN security counsel resolutions.

Ever hear of Operation Torch?

Go do some research. Then come back and report. See that indeed Britain did invade North Africa, which had a tangential relationship to Germany, in their conteroffensive.

Or do you not know your history?

Also - if you note, I didn't lump all muslims together, I said quite clearly "militant islam." That's a group much like the National Socialists in 1933 - not yet in power, but trying to get itself there, ignored and in some but not all instances supported by the great mass of people, and supported rhetorically by many others.
posted by swerdloff at 10:16 AM on November 20, 2003


Don't confuse him with logic, pardonyou? It'll disturb his thought processes and make his pin head explode.

I stated in the same post he ridicules, that I am against the war. All I wanted to know is what ideas people had for combating terrorism, beyond "let's just be nice to eachother" and "level the whole region." But he obviously had no answers so he decides to spray labels around. Plus the vociferousness of his response proves he can't take a joke.
posted by jonmc at 10:16 AM on November 20, 2003


That's right, I forgot that once you supported a government you were barred from ever opposing that government, even 20 years later. Even if you were mistaken, even if circumstances change dramatically, you're estopped from taking action.

You were the one implying that terrorist actions were apparently independent of anything outside terrorists simply existing and weren't in any way related to U.S. military intervention over the last two decades.

All I'm doing is questioning the motives of our government... unless you feel I'm barred from opposing it, hmmm?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:21 AM on November 20, 2003


Nobody's questioning your right to question to government XQU. Don't bring up bogeymen that aren't here.

People are merely asking whether you believe that:

a) If the US helps create monsters for a purpose at some point they should leave them alone because they created them; or

b) If the US helps create monsters for a purpose at some point they should seek to clean up their own mess.

From your posts, I assume a, but feel free to explain why that's wrong.

For example - if the Northern Alliance now starts turning out terrorists, should we oppose them or not, since the Northern Alliance helped us attack the Taliban?
posted by swerdloff at 10:29 AM on November 20, 2003


probablysteve, I'm extremely glad that the US will be able to pay back shortly the $1.3 billion per day that it borrowed from overseas investors in 2002

/Clearly off-topic by now

posted by magullo at 10:34 AM on November 20, 2003


"...How about the opposite - "Militant Islam" wanted a war, and they're bringing one, whether you want it or not." "

Well, yes. And - I'd add - the ranks of militant Islam, including those of it's suicide bomber cadres, are growing by the day. Washington and Downing Street collectively could not be doing a finer job of providing PR for the Al Qaeda recruitment division.

Operation Iraqi Freedom™ could have been pulled off with dramatically more success and less bloodshed if GW Bush had an iota of multilateralist instinct like his father. If the Bush diplomatic corps hadn't pissed all over US international relations with dozens of countries ( Bush Administration appointees have been noted for an almost incomprehensible level of arrogance in the way they've approached international diplomacy ) the US might have been able to assemble a real coalition with which to occupy Iraq, a coalition including even (and crucially) some Arab troops.

Not.

It's a damn shame, too. The Neocons had hoped, perhaps to destabilize Iran, or Syria, or Jordan. But Turkey ??? - even Richard jazzed on amphetamines wouldn't go there.

jonmc - Why not combat terrorism by shoring up international cooperation - in law, police information sharing, and so on, as well as through the intelligent use of PR?


For example, the Bush administration is widely perceived - in the Islamic world, anyway, as being in the pocket of or at least the strong partisan of the Sharon government. Now that the much heralded "Road Map to Peace" has been bombed out by the cycle of Palestinian terrorism and Israeli reprisals and assassinations (not to mention the impact of the fence under construction) there seems little hope that the Bush Administration will make any sort of honest effort to bring pressure to bear on Israel, and Sharon, to work towards a peace settlement.

So, that lightning rod for Islamic fury at the west will remain in place and will continue to draw current.

Further, can we even imagine the impact the hundreds of billions the US is pouring into Iraq could have had if distributed around the world in a more or less efficient manner by NGO's? That's not chump change - money on that scale could have raised many of the world's poor out of direst poverty and given them basic medical care, clean water, basic, literacy, and basic nutrition.

Talk about good PR. Terrorism wouldn't stand much of a chance against THAT sort of war - a war of generosity. The Bin Ladens would quickly shrivel up and blow away and their recruits would leave to find something more productive to do.

But THAT sort of idea is foreign to the "Born 'n bred in the military industrial complex" Bush Administration boys (and girl) who cannot think outside of the box of military solutions to address what amount, mainly, to social and political problems.

"Of course then one could ask what were the actions of Bush and Blair that caused the attacks on the WTC?"
(posted by PenDevil at 8:28 AM PST on November 20) - Well Bush and Blair were not directly responsible, but much of the emergence of Al Qaeda was DIRECT blowback from US involvement in Afghanistan - the US helped both to fan the flames of militant Islam ( as a weapon against the Soviets ) and also helped to assemble the international Islamic networks - which later got out of hand and metastasized into Al Qaeda. Also, as I recall, Bin Laden has a serious grudge against the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia - a little "present" to GW from his dad, from the first Gulf War.
posted by troutfishing at 10:40 AM on November 20, 2003


The sick part of this is - Iraqi Freedom could have been a far greater success, and it still might be pulled out of it's nose dive towards failure - if the Bush Administration would eat a little crow - just a little - and make some apologies and mea culpas to it's alienated once-allies who might then lend the troops, financing and - crucially - legitimacy to make "Iraqi Freedom" work for Iraqis.

I don't see that happening, but - despite my disgust at Bush and his policies and my desire to see him out of office in '04 - it would be in the best interest of the US, US troops in Iraq, Iraq itself, and the world at large for GW Bush to wake up and smell the truck bombs of disaster before things get much worse.
posted by troutfishing at 10:50 AM on November 20, 2003


a) If the US helps create monsters for a purpose at some point they should leave them alone because they created them

"Leaving them alone" is a nice way of describing "ignoring it when we're done." We've proven that strategem in Afghanistan.

b) If the US helps create monsters for a purpose at some point they should seek to clean up their own mess.

In other words, insisting that we "have to fix this ourselves" to avoid wounding our pride in the face of the international community. We're doing this in Iraq.

Both of your "choices" are wrapped up in you own wording of personal acceptance- oh, we created monsters, but for "a purpose-" in other words, I can choose how I feel as long as I pick with the given that we were right to have made them in the first place? Thank you, no.

Bush didn't offer the UN your idea of choices when he went to Iraq- he offered them they way I just described them. The international community- a body that, honestly, exists for the purpose of joining together to clean up each other's accidents- was rebuffed on the U.S. demands that their "cleanup" was completely dominated, organized, and led by the U.S. and the U.S. alone. It's ridiculous to insist the person who didn't want the mess made in the first place has to now decide how it gets cleaned up... especially when an offer to help is made and refused becuase the U.S. doesn't want to acknowledge it made the damn mess in the first place.

For example - if the Northern Alliance now starts turning out terrorists, should we oppose them or not, since the Northern Alliance helped us attack the Taliban?

Half the Northern Alliance is the Taliban. The anarchy of the region has led countless residents, many of whom are merely looking for pay, to simply jump sides now that they have a chance to kick out "the liberators" and get a piece of the countr back for themselves. The Taliban is slowly regaining power in the country, and the United States is responsible because it made choice a in Afghanistan.

My choice is choice c: The US moves for honest, sincere international support in cleaning up a mess it made because of its decision to create monsters for the purpose of the United States. The first step is admitting who made the mess in the first place.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:52 AM on November 20, 2003


jonmc: I would suggest pulling out troops from countries with distateful governments for a start. I would also consider fostering democratic dissent using non-violent methods and economic incentives to push reform and punish corruption.

While I have no doubt many of the militant Islam idealogues have an agenda of ruling I suspect that the majority of their followers would be less likely to join in if they felt they had a legitimate voice in their own affairs and corruption was not tolerated. When the US says nothing nor proposes serious actions against corruption it is often seen as an American plot to repress citizens.

I am very naive of course, but when reform-based parties run on Islamic ideas and the ruling government abolishes the election results because the Islamists win (as has happened in Algeria and Turkey IIRC) then the fuel of conspiracy burns hot. Note that Islamist does not necessary suggest a theocratic autocracy.
posted by infowar at 10:53 AM on November 20, 2003


infowar & troutfishing: both good ideas, but what about taking known terrorists out of circulation? That would have to involve the military, at least somewhat.
posted by jonmc at 10:59 AM on November 20, 2003


Pardonyou, while I do agree with you in general, it's also important to think about things like American support for the Shah of Iran (the Iranian Islamic revolution is perhaps the seminal pre-September 11th event in the development of the relatively new violent political Islamic movement), American support for repressive and oppressive regimes in the Middle East including Iraq, Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, The CIA truck bombing outside a Mosque in Beirut (the largest single civillian death-toll from a terror attack in the history of the middle east before a similar attack in Najaf a few months ago), and CIA machinations in various middle east countries for the past 30 years.

So while in principle I support what you're saying, it is also slightly disingenuous to portray Al Qaeda purely as the group which has done terrorist and guerilla attacks in the past 10 years, when in fact they grew out of a culture that was in part precipitated by US actions and decisions. In the same way it is facile to portray the US as simply 'acted upon' when in fact our policies (many of them very bad policies from virtually every perspective) have had perhaps the single greatest impact on that region in the past 35 years.

Personally I think miscalculation has been the biggest flaw of American policy, something of course you can't say about Al Qaeda, but there are several instances where a similar mentality has infected the American decision-makers... and these are the decisions that come back to haunt you.
posted by cell divide at 11:05 AM on November 20, 2003


jonmc - I think police are a lot more effective against terrorists, in general, than military forces. Terrorists are, more than anything, criminals - and police are trained to deal with criminals far better than armies are. My comments don't apply to Iraq because there was probably no export of terrorism out of Iraq at, or Iraqi support of Al Qaeda, prior to the US invasion. I'm sure there are a few Al Qaeda practicing their trade in Iraq now though.
posted by troutfishing at 11:13 AM on November 20, 2003


jonmc - I think police are a lot more effective against terrorists, in general, than military forces.

Maybe, but what kinda cops? NYPD? FBI? CIA? Some combo thereof? I'm not being facetious. Plus a country that was theoretically harboring terrorists might not be so quick to let police in. Which is where the military (probably best some kind of irregular unit like the SEALS or Green Berets trained in precision warfare come in).

Also, my compliments, troutfishing, on being someone to have a reasonable conversation (meaning that you can acknowledge the legitamacy of an opposing view while maintaining the integrity of your own) about the current situation with. MeFites on both sides of the fight, watch that man, as Bowie says.
posted by jonmc at 11:23 AM on November 20, 2003


cell divide, even if everything you said is true, I don't see how that should impact placing the primary blame on the people who today made the choice to drive a truck into a crowded building, killing a bunch of innocent people. Some have gotten so carried away in their Bush hate that they're unable to condemn the indefensible, because to do so would deprive them of an opportunity to criticize the administration.

There's no need for moral equivalence here. Intentionally blowing up innocent people is wrong. There is no rationale that can justify that action. If we start with that proposition (which I hope is not controversial), then the blame must rest squarely on the shoulders of those who had the single, last, and best opportunity to avoid it. That's not to say that U.S. policy can't be criticized or analyzed -- it should. Rather, it's unconscionable for an event like this to happen, and for the first reaction to be: "Damn you, Bush and Blair!" Let's address all of the things people have mentioned: poverty, religion, the role of the U.S., etc. But let's first condemn the actions, and commit to punishing those responsible and preventing further attacks.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:45 AM on November 20, 2003


Does this mean that the neo-con "flypaper theory" isn't working?

According to the theory shouldn't this have happened in Bagdhad instead?

Does this mean that invading Iraq really didn't do a damn thing to reduce the threat of terrorism? Who would have thought it?
Perhaps we need to invade a few more countries before we give up on fighting terror with the green machine you think?

After all, doing sensible things that don't involve big oil, defense contractors and no-bid contracts might actually benefit the common person and reduce the threat of terrorism. Can't have that. Wouldn't be unseemly profitable.
posted by nofundy at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2003


Intentionally blowing up innocent people is wrong. There is no rationale that can justify that action. If we start with that proposition (which I hope is not controversial), then the blame must rest squarely on the shoulders of those who had the single, last, and best opportunity to avoid it.

Operation Iron Hammer

Operation Shock and Awe

Need I say more?
posted by nofundy at 11:50 AM on November 20, 2003


I'm tired of all this peace talk. I'm tired of anti-war protestors. I'm tired of the whole attitude that if we are peaceful, no one will get hurt.

I'm tired of history repeating itself. I'm tired of people saying LIVE AND LET LIVE to Hitler and Saddam and the freakin' Taliban.

Until you've lived under Hitler or Stalin or Saddam or the Taliban, shut up already. The US needs no other provocation than oppression to wage war on a military regime. That's right, you heard it here.

ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL AND ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN UNALIENABLE BLAH BLAH BLAH.

The right to protest comes from the idea of freedom. If you aren't willing to go to war simply to free others, then please stop protesting. The Iraqis are just like anyone else, they want to be free. Don't protest stupid politicians who make bad decisions.

Protest dictators and terrorists. If you aren't for a free and democratic Iraq, then you don't deserve the democracy that someone died for somewhere along the line.

I'm tired of my own rambling. I'm tired of all of people living in freedom who can't imagine the horror of living in a militant dictatorship.

In the news this morning, a man dedicated his literary award to cubans in prison, for, among other things, having too many books. Not the wrong ones, just too many.

Violence done in the name of peace is violence, inaction in the face of violence against the innocent is violence.
posted by ewkpates at 12:00 PM on November 20, 2003


Oh, I'm sorry, nofundy. I didn't realize we intentionally bombed innocent civilians during those operations. Here I thought we were intentionally bombing military targets.

Just more moral equivalence. It never ends...
posted by pardonyou? at 12:01 PM on November 20, 2003


XQU:

The US moves for honest, sincere international support in cleaning up a mess it made because of its decision to create monsters for the purpose of the United States. The first step is admitting who made the mess in the first place.

And if that doesn't come?

If the International Community does what it's done about the Congo or Rwanda? If our erstwhile European allies do what they did when Christian Militants were slaughtering innocent Muslims in Serbia? What then? Especially, as in the case of Iraq, when there are huge amounts of money on the line (French, German, and Russian sweetheart deals for oil, and large debts that they (probably correctly) feared would go unpaid if the Hussein government fell...)

Trout:

jonmc - I think police are a lot more effective against terrorists, in general, than military forces. Terrorists are, more than anything, criminals - and police are trained to deal with criminals far better than armies are.

Are police forces exportable? In other words - could we have sent the NYPD into Afghanistan to make an arrest? Or perhaps we should have sent UN blue helmets? What police force do you mean, exactly? Serious question. Especially in a state like Afghanistan where the Terrorists are supported by the government, or Iraq, same deal (and if they don't, then your definition of terrorist probably doesn't include a Palestinian suicide bomber, who's promised that his family will receive a $25,000 paycheck upon his martyrdom.)

There is no international police force that I'm aware of, and certainly there isn't one that can make arrests of people who are sovereign citizens of another country without that countries permission. So, in your hypothetical, who would, for example, go arrest the terrorist members of Hizbollah?

Maybe there is a group that I'm not aware of.

The closest I know of is the FBI, and everything they do (well, everything on the books) must be done with the permission of the host country. Which Saddam was not likely to give, nor was Mullah Omar, nor is Kim, nor are the Mullahs in Iran.

Serious question - how does a police force deal with people that they can't arrest?

Cell Divide:
So while in principle I support what you're saying, it is also slightly disingenuous to portray Al Qaeda purely as the group which has done terrorist and guerilla attacks in the past 10 years, when in fact they grew out of a culture that was in part precipitated by US actions and decisions. In the same way it is facile to portray the US as simply 'acted upon' when in fact our policies (many of them very bad policies from virtually every perspective) have had perhaps the single greatest impact on that region in the past 35 years.

Quite so.

And everyone seems, because it no longer exists, to believe that since the Cold War is over, Soviet training of these people and the Soviet inculcation of leaders in methods of governance are totally gone. Many of the leaders in the Middle East learned their trade from the Soviet Union (and their regimes mirror that one, from socialism to corrupt ruling party to secret service that keeps tabs on everyone to ruthlessness to disappearances). Let's not totally forget history when we look at this.

The US was fighting a war. It never heated up to full scale nuclear exchange (thank God) but most of the machinations of the CIA (until 1989, really) were to thwart that. Vietnam was part of the Domino theory, and so was our support of the early Taliban, and so was our support of the early Hussein.

Think context.

Now that the soviets are gone, their various protege are not, and ours (especially in Latin America) are just as bad. I'd think that Liberals (those people who believe in the dignity of people, human rights, the right to live without fear...) would support the US taking itself to task for our own historical mistakes, and finishing the Cold War.
posted by swerdloff at 12:10 PM on November 20, 2003


...Even if we had access to every piece of classified data the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA currently possess, it would still be hard to quantify the damage done by the neocons' spectacular fuckup in Iraq. But the anecdotal evidence gives us at least a hint:


The State Department has decided to nearly double, to 110, the number of U.S. diplomats in Iraq... The contingent will include a large number of the department's 402 Arabic speakers.

(Actually, according to this ABC News story, State has a grand total of 279 Arabic-speaking employees, out of which only 60 or so are fluent. The CIA appears to be in a similar situation. So it seems likely that to the extent the U.S. government has the capability to collect, translate and analyze Arabic language information, it's funneling just about all of it into Iraq.)

Pentagon leaders are considering reassigning a number of intelligence officers, interrogators, translators, linguists and others from the 1,400-member Iraq Survey Group, which is conducting the hunt for weapons of mass destruction ... Any shifted staff would augment efforts to prevent further attacks like those that have killed dozens in Baghdad.

If the Pentagon finds it necessary to cannibalize the WMD snipe hunt to fight the insurgents in Iraq (you know -- that desperate handful of Baathist dead-enders?) then how many intelligence assets have been stripped away from the struggle against Al Qaeda since this fiasco began?

And that doesn't include the tremendous distraction and demoralization caused by the administration's corruption of the intelligence process, the Pentagon's rogue intelligence shop, the ongoing war between the CIA and the White House, the partisan bickering on the Senate Intelligence Committee over who did what to whom, etc. etc.

Nor does it count the consequences of the fires of anti-American hatred stoked by the invasion, the occupation and the Army's new leave-no-building-behind counterinsurgency strategy.

How many foreign intelligence sources have dried up since March? How many foreign leaders -- like Pakistan's Musharraf -- have pulled their punches in dealing with homegrown jihadist groups? How many cops and intelligence officers in the Islamic world have quietly begun to sabotage their own governments' anti-terrorism efforts, leading to more episodes like this one back in April:

Yemen was questioning two senior secret-police officers yesterday after 10 al-Qaida suspects, including two linked to the suicide bombing of the American warship USS Cole, escaped from a Yemeni jail, an official said.
As I said, it's probably impossible to quantify the damage. But whatever it is, it's more than we can afford. Al Qaeda's revival -- despite the death or capture of much of its pre-9/11 leadership -- shows how little margin for error America has in this war. The terrorists are every bit as cunning and ruthless and fanatical as the propaganda masters say they are, which is why America simply can't afford to give them too many breaks: Not if it wants to prevent an eventual repetition of 9/11, perhaps on an even grander scale.

And yet that's exactly what Bush and Blair have done. By putting Iraq in play, they've opened up an entirely new front, one that sucks up people and resources at an alarming rate, but yields absolutely no offsetting advantages in the struggle against jihadism. It's become the 21st century version of Gallipoli -- at best, a bloody stalemate; at worst, a disastrous strategic defeat.


from Billmon--emphasis mine.
posted by y2karl at 12:30 PM on November 20, 2003


I realize now I should have included the next paragraph:

Listening to Bush and Blair spout their pompous platitudes this morning -- "we will finish the job," "there must be no holding back, no compromise," etc. ad nauseum -- it seemed more obvious than ever that neither man has the slightest idea what kind of war they're fighting. They're as clueless as the British politicians who fed men into the meat grinder of trench warfare during World War I, or the French generals who tried to hide behind the Maginot Line in World War II. They have no strategy. They don't even have a concept of a strategy. All they have is warmed over Churchillian rhetoric, as uninspiring as it is irrelevant.

Emphasis, once again, mine.
posted by y2karl at 12:44 PM on November 20, 2003


Bush started a counteroffensive, that's all. He may have made strategic errors (Iraq may have been one) but it's a counteroffensive nonetheless. -swerdloff

Are you kidding me? I will give you your point regarding militant Islamists waging war, but invading Iraq and calling it a counteroffensive is preposterous and delusional.

gwint's link prompted the following...[but don't blame him]

Militant Islamists?Islam

"Who Killed Daniel Pearl?" by Bernard Henri-Levy
Prompted by the murder of Daniel Pearl, above, Lévy traveled widely to expose the role of Islamic militants in Pearl's death. Lévy claims that Pearl — "a refutation of his killers' view of a clash of civilizations" — was murdered before he could reveal links between al-Qaeda and Pakistani intelligence chiefs.
"The war in Iraq was morally justified, but politically inept," he says. "America chose the wrong target." Washington's continued coddling of the Islamabad government should end, he believes; it is to Pakistan that arms inspectors should be dispatched to head off any technological transfer from the government to radical Islamic groups.
Does his previous employer, The Wall Street Journal give a damn and raise this issue? Not according to the Financial Times.
It is particularly frustrating that Levy has failed to persuade The Wall Street Journal to talk to him (although that is not made clear at any point in the French version of the book). If anyone knew what leads Pearl was pursuing during his days in Pakistan, it would have been the American newspaper. However, for reasons unknown to Levy, Pearl's employer refused to co-operate with his investigation.

In fact, The Wall Street Journal has since gone one step further by undermining the entire thrust of Levy's thesis. In an e-mailed response to the FT's questions on the subject, the newspaper said: "We have published everything we know on this topic. We have no reason to believe Danny Pearl was pursuing any article focused on a conspiracy among Pakistan, North Korea and al Qaeda such as that suggested in Bernard-Henri Levy's book. The Wall Street Journal was not involved in any way in the preparation of this book. However, we urge all the authorities involved in the investigation to review the book to see whether it provides any useful information which could help in the effort to bring Danny's killers to justice."


Some may not agree with BHL's viewpoint.
Levy believes the reporter's kidnapping and murder was essentially a "crime of state" that implicates parts of the Pakistani government and, in particular, its Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI). That conclusion is not particularly original. Tariq Ali said much the same thing in his analysis of the Pearl murder in The Guardian. The author of The Clash of Fundamentalisms argued that hardline Islamic groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Harkatul Ansar, who claim responsibility for acts of terrorism in Pakistan, are probably just shell organizations controlled by the ISI.


"Inside the Islamic Mafia" Slate article by Christopher Hitchens
One of the many pleasures of Lévy's book is the care he takes to show the utter cynicism of the godfathers of all this. He quotes by name a Saudi lawyer who specializes in financial transactions:

"Islamism is a business," he explains to me with a big smile. "I don't say that because it's my job, or because I see proof of it in my office ten times a day, but because it's a fact. People hide behind Islamism. They use it like a screen saying 'Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar!' But we know that here. We see the deals and the movements behind the curtain. In one way or another, it all passes through our hands. We do the paperwork. We write the contracts. And I can tell you that most of them couldn't care less about Allah. They enter Islamism because it's nothing other than a source of power and wealth, especially in Pakistan. … Take the young ones in the madrassas. They see the high rollers in their SUVs having five wives and sending their children to good schools, much better than the madrassas. They have your Pearl's killer, Omar Sheikh, right in front of their eyes. When he gets out of the Indian prisons and returns to Lahore, what do the neighbors see? He's very well-dressed. He has a Land Cruiser. He gets married and the city's big-shots come to his wedding."
"Levy provides little proof for theories" from The Tallahassee Democrat's Ralph J. Epstein thinks BHL is stretching it too much, almost dismissing it completely.


Feel free to return to the usual tired bullshit. -jonmc
Jesus jonmc, don't encourage this, please! If you see shit, don't step in it, walk around it.[probably a dog walker's proverb]

klaatu, I'm also losing my hair over this, but I haven't any family overseas as you do. Hope your brother stays safe.


The whole 9/11 incident and how much those in positions knew or didn't know, smells big time to me. The reaction being invading Iraq under these pretenses is misguided. Much easier for me to say this now, but I don't see any strategic thinking besides an emotional response with no definition or plan of what later [post invasion]. Bush & Co., appear to be disregarding any counterpoint views except that of their own agenda. That troubles me, big time.
posted by alicesshoe at 12:48 PM on November 20, 2003


Looking forward to President Bush's landslide reëlection, and all the misery it causes on Metafilter!
posted by ParisParamus at 1:01 PM on November 20, 2003


Militant Islamists?Islam

should read:

Militant Islamists [does not equal [sign]] Islam

[It's a font thing error]
posted by alicesshoe at 1:09 PM on November 20, 2003


jonmc: I see 2 basic strategies with dealign with existing terrorists. First, is to decouple the acts with a political ideology. Do as the British have done and label them criminals and proceed from there. Sending in the military and proclaiming to the world that the military will resolve the issue IMHO gives legitmacy to the terrorist's stated aims.

Second, I would consider a covert program to eliminate said people. I'm not talking about shooting missles into cars or apartment buildings. What I am talking about is quietly sending messages through targeted elimination while proceeding on ways to remove public support be it financial (probably the quietest and most effective means of eliminating trainingprograms), legal, or even political although that is a dicey issue.

When people ask me about such behaviour I am reminded of what the KGB did in Beirut during the early 80s. Some Soviet diplomats (may be some other Soviet official) were kidnapped by a militant group about the same time the US was having people abducted. The KGB found out who was responsible and had their fingers mailed to the group's leaders. The Soviets were quietly released shortly thereafter. Very quiet, very effective, and very cheap politically and financially.

I'm not condoning such behavior as the only solution, but certainly an example of how to resolve a situation like you describe.

Think "Point Blank" without the mercenary angle. :)
posted by infowar at 1:16 PM on November 20, 2003


First, my condolences to all persons who must suffer the effects of violence upon themselves and those close to them.

I didn't realize we intentionally bombed innocent civilians during those operations. Here I thought we were intentionally bombing military targets.

Perhaps your thinking is skewed to a particular source of information?
Who determines what is a "military" target?
So you posit no civilians died during the invasion of Iraq?
That no innocents are dying now during "Iron Hammer?"

I'm happy someone got slapped on the ass with the God like ability to discern such matters with the arrogance and certitude of what is "right and correct" is far above my ability.
When innocent people die it doesn't matter the delivery mechanism or the justifications behind it. They're still dead.

Don't be too confident of your sources of information or of your infallible sense of correctness.
posted by nofundy at 1:18 PM on November 20, 2003


There is no international police force that I'm aware of, and certainly there isn't one that can make arrests of people who are sovereign citizens of another country without that countries permission. So, in your hypothetical, who would, for example, go arrest the terrorist members of Hizbollah?

I think the key is to foster international cooperation in order to put pressure on countries to police terrorists within their own boundaries. This is, by and large, the strategy that the Bush administration is pursuing in Pakistan (with a good amount of success) and Syria (not so successful, so far). It's certainly a slow-paced strategy--diplomacy never seems to move rapidly--but it's possibly the only effective strategy. After all, members of the local police force understand the local culture and speak the local language: these factors give them an intelligence advantage that's unmatched by the most sophisticated spy satellite. Couple this human intelligence with signals intelligence provided by American spy agencies (again, cooperation is the key) and you have the ideal police force for seeking out terrorists.

The problem comes when you have a regime that stubbornly refuses to cooperate and that shuns all diplomatic advances. If we know such a regime is harboring terrorists, military action, as in Afghanistan, becomes an option. Military action alone is not a solution, however. The chaos in the wake of war can create fertile ground for terrorism; not until civil order is reestablished can terrorists be systematically investigated and rooted out. And the restoration of order can take a long time, and it is a risky, imprecise proposition. Which makes the slow progress of diplomacy look like not quite the handicap it seemed at first.

I think the concern that many people have with the current approach to the "war on terror" is that in pursing primarily military solutions, the U.S. administration is shooting itself in the foot diplomatically. There will be no arrests of Hizbollah leaders without the cooperation of Syria, and Syria is unlikely to cooperate fully so long as it feels it might be the next candidate for invasion. The same goes for countries like Turkey, where U.S. military action has turned the populace against America, making it politically uncomfortable for the government to cooperate with America. This is what people mean when they say "George Bush has squandered international goodwill." In the context of the strategy I've laid out here, that goodwill was a very precious thing to be squandered away so frivolously.

More on topic--I'm curious about the terrorists' motives in attacking in Turkey. The Turkish people were already skeptical about cooperating with America, and Islamic parties have been making progress within the political framework there. Don't these attacks risk turning the people's sympathies away from the Islamists and towards the U.S.? Is there some strategy at play here?
posted by mr_roboto at 1:24 PM on November 20, 2003


When innocent people die it doesn't matter the delivery mechanism or the justifications behind it.

Or the intent? That's totally irrelevant, too?

Don't be too confident of your sources of information or of your infallible sense of correctness.

OK, nofundy, you're right. I have seen the light! They're morally equal. Purposely driving a van full of explosives into a shopping area and foreign consulate with the intention of killing as many innocent people as possible is exactly the same as conducting a bombing campaign during war. Apples and apples. The latter is as morally reprehensible as the former. Got it.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:47 PM on November 20, 2003


Pardonyou, that was the part that I was agreeing with you about-- individuals are always responsible for their own actions. If you look at the beginning of my post, where I said I agree with you in general, that's what I meant.

On other topics, ParisParamus, you confuse me. After all, you're the one who said in terms of American politics, the war is a sham and Bush should be indicted. I demand moral clarity and logical consistency!
posted by cell divide at 1:47 PM on November 20, 2003


I think troutfishing raised an interesting point above - were the money invested and being invested in the war in Iraq instead put into improving humanitarian concerns/education, there would not be a direct reduction in the number of terrorists.

However, there would be a massive reduction in the supply line of new terrorists. War causes anger and resentment - these negative emotions are fed on by those who wish to use it to further their political agendas - hell, even politicians here use it, the force of nationalism.

The biggest mistake made was unilateral action - America's intrasigence over the formation of an international court and suchlike will make a global anti-terrorism unit impossible to implement.

True, some countries may not accept the writ of one if one existed, but some countries do not accept the UN either (a direct analog here I believe). What to do then? Then comes some sort of forceful measure - a last resort instead of a first high visibility offensive. And, as it would be done in a multilateral way, there is less chance of it turning into a mire from which no end of rhetoric can rescue one as our soldiers come home in bodybags..

Probably still get you reelected again though. Pesky nationalism.

This is, of course, only addressing part of the problem and glosses over various difficulties that would be faced, such as the French (damn French), but then again, a few paragraphs will never solve all of life's woes.

mr_roboto - the attacks in Turkey may have a number of causes - I would postulate that the increasing dichotomy between a secular state and religious government has been coming to a head for a while now.. Turkey is active in its discrimination against any signs of Islam - for example see the bans on wearing of the hijab, even though it is mandatory in the religion. Many see restricting people from wearing it as no better than forcing people to wear it (cf Afghanistan)..

With polarised societies such as that in Turkey and disillusioned victims of war such as in Iraq, there will never be a shortage of new recruits for any extremist party.

This is why the war on terror will never be won as long as we use terror. Rather it will only end when we learn to care for others irrespective of where they were born or what funny language they speak. Clichéd, but hey.. It's bed time..

Fi Aman Allah,

Mossy
posted by Mossy at 1:51 PM on November 20, 2003


wow - while I was crafting my post, mr_roboto replicated it almost point for point - and probably did a better job than I did, to boot. Liberal lockstep?...........boogah boogah!!

Y2Karl - I was thinking exactly the same thing when I heard that tired Churchillian rhetoric following the bombing in Istanbul - "We will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them in the convenience stores, we will fight them in the lavatories, we will fight them on the miniature-golf courses", and so on.

They sounded like robots.

Meanwhile - Swerdloff: I assumed too much - no, I wasn't specifically talking about US police........though I think that there are some "antiterrorism" police now in the US, cannibalized from the FBI and other agencies and fortified with SWAT teams as necessary. All well and good.

But I was actually talking about the police of other nations - surely you don't think the US could extend it's police to span the globe? - I didn't think so. Local police who are aware of local conditions and who speak the native language of their area - those are the ones on the front lines of terrorism, and they in turn are coordinated by national antiterrorism agencies which might receive training from the US but which are still sovereign. OK.

"Are police forces exportable? In other words - could we have sent the NYPD into Afghanistan to make an arrest? Or perhaps we should have sent UN blue helmets? What police force do you mean, exactly? Serious question. Especially in a state like Afghanistan where the Terrorists are supported by the government, or Iraq, same deal (and if they don't, then your definition of terrorist probably doesn't include a Palestinian suicide bomber, who's promised that his family will receive a $25,000 paycheck upon his martyrdom." (swerdloff) - I actually wasn't specifically addressing Afghanistan as much as Iraq and also the wider global war on terrorism, although y2karl's post - on how resources are being cannibalized from Afghanistan and sent to Iraq - addresses part of your comment. But every nation is it's own case. Afghanistan was a bit beyond policing, and if the US does not provide resources for rebuilding, it will stay that way - or continue to degenerate into chaos (as it's gradually been doing). But - as far as I'm aware, terrorists in Afghanistan are no longer supported by the government. Moving along - why do you think I don't classify Palestinian suicide bombers as terrorists? I do and by the same token I also classify some actions - on the part of the US and also Israel - as state terrorism.

I think that successful conflict resolution demands that all parties acknoweledge - to some extent, anyway - the violence that they do.

"in your hypothetical, who would, for example, go arrest the terrorist members of Hizbollah?...Serious question - how does a police force deal with people that they can't arrest?
"
- Well police actions aren't always appropriate. But I think they should be the first recourse. In the case of Hizbollah, Syria and Iran are it's patrons, and so the way to deal with Hizbollah is to exert pressure on it's patrons - especially on Syria - to work to build a counterforce to Hizbollah within Lebannon..........or invade, but Israel already tried this and found it wasn't worth the effort. The US could try the same, but I hardly think the results would be different. Syria could be invaded, of course, but that might not be wise at the current time - and this would not deal with Hizbolah directly unless Lebannon were occupied also. And that would mean the occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebannon - that's a lot of occupation, and I doubt that current US military force levels could support that without a reintroduction of the draft. It would be very, very costly - both in terms of casualties and financially, and there would be a far, far greater upsurge in Islamic terrorism in response - a real Jihad, I'd reckon. So, Hizbollah isn't simple to deal with. If it were, Israel would have done so long ago The polarization of Lebanese society had many causes and cannot be easily undone. What would you suggest?

As I said, each country and each region is it's own case. There are no easy answers and solutions must always also look beyond mere policing and occupations to issues of social justice - from what you've written, I don't sense disagreement on this.

Did you see my larger point, that in alienating many long time allies around the world and also in committing numerous PR blunders (though you might not acknowledge the ones I'd note) the Bush Administration has to some extent weakened the global effort to combat terrorism?

"Think context.

Now that the soviets are gone, their various protege are not, and ours (especially in Latin America) are just as bad. I'd think that Liberals (those people who believe in the dignity of people, human rights, the right to live without fear...) would support the US taking itself to task for our own historical mistakes, and finishing the Cold War.
"
- I mostly agree with this approach, but I think I have a different sense (not always though) of the methods we should use to do so. Sometimes, for example, people resent being 'fixed' - there's an irrational component to this, for sure. Or, as a friend of mine quipped - "Now, every 18 year old Iraqi teenage yahoo on hormonal overdrive can have a hand at shooting or bombing allied troops". People resent outsiders. We're a tribal species. Now, this isn't an argument for the US to pull out of argument, but it could be considered an argument for the US to bend heaven and hell to try and get some muslim troops in there, troops who will be perceived as less of a foreign, occupying army.

jonmc - thanks for the compliment. I started out my time at Metafilter swinging away but - over time - I've had my agreements and disagreements with most people here, and now I mostly see that approach as dumb. I might be termed as some sort of liberal, but I've got some scathing things to say about liberal culture too (which I might work up into a post one day). And besides - I find the whole left/right spectrum idea is wildly simplistic. Such as : I was raised to think otherwise, but I've decided that I generally support gun ownership (though not ownership of assault weapons). Does this make me somehow more "right-wing" well maybe. But I don't think so.

mr_roboto - I've heard on the radio today that, in interviews, many of the victims of the bombings in Istanbul are blaming Bush, Blair, and the US, for creating an atmosphere that encourages terrorism. Hmmmm..........
posted by troutfishing at 1:51 PM on November 20, 2003


Oops - "Now, this isn't an argument for the US to pull out of argument." - I meant Iraq!

BY the way, I'm impressed with the thoughtfulness and caliber of the discussion on this post. especially my own, hee hee..... * piano falls out window, crushing Troutfishing flat as a pancake. He slowly re-inflates, cartoon charactor that he is *
posted by troutfishing at 2:02 PM on November 20, 2003


pardonyou?, your recurring argument that the United States is morally superior to Arab-world terrorists because our civilian killings are accidental while their are intentional might have some bearing on how it affects said influx of terrorism if those nations in which we've killed the civilian population... you know... gave a shit.

Right now, though, the only thing they really care about is that the United States is killing civilians, and that's a great line in their recruitment pamphlets. One might suggest that a great sign of moral superiority would be to devise a defense against terrorism that didn't involve carpet-bombing, but as ewkpates noted, I've admittedly never lived under a terrorist dictatorship. Clearly, when that happens, those ungrateful Arabs have no right to be upset when their families get killed by their liberators.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:43 PM on November 20, 2003


What should we think? Maybe we should be a bit upset about the terrorist assault on this thread by ParisParamus and jonmc, who felt fit to bomb us with baseless ad hominem attacks and zero facts.

How about some obvious truths?

1> Terrorism is essentially a criminal act of premeditated murder, organized both on an individual level and on an organized international level.

2> Police, in cooperation with intelligence gathering services, are far more capable of rooting out terrorism than soldiers. They have more skill at infiltrating terrorist cells and at using informants, for instance.

3> Iraq was not a hotbed of terrorism before the US invasion, and nearly all of the resistance that the US has faced in Iraq has been from the Iraqi citizens themselves.

4> Terrorism is criminal behavior driven by a political agenda, and it stands to reason that as long as the political agenda is a valid one (i.e. liberating Palestine, ending the occupation of Iraq, opposing Western imperialism, etc.), then, given the size of the Islamic world, there will continue to be a continual supply of those willing to commit acts of terror.

5> Terrorism is a force multiplier -- you only need one terrorist to spoil a lot of people's day. For this reason, the "War on Terror" is a canard, just like the "War on Drugs" or the "War on Crime". Such wars can not be "won". The best that can be hoped for is to reduce the likelihood of terrorist acts and to take reasonable, cost effective steps to minimize their potential damage. No amount of security can make our nation completely safe, and excessive security is costly and reduces our civil rights.

6> Any realistic plan to reduce terrorism will ultimately fail if it does not target the political agendas and motives behind terrorist attacks. If you want to reduce the incidence and damage of terrorist acts, reducing the reasons for them is a part of the solution.

7> Arab terrorism is a relatively new phenomena. It is worth pointing out that widespread Arab terrorism against the Jews did not occur until the Jewish colonization of Palestine, and that the first major act of Arab terrorism specifically directed against the US did not occur until the 1983 bombings of the US embassy and of the US Marine barracks in Beirut, which occured during the US deployment in that country. The lesson is this -- Arab terrorism primarily occurs in the context of foriegn occupation, deployment, and/or involvement in Arab politics.

8> The primary economic reason for US involvenent in the Arab world is oil. If you want to minimize the future risks of Arab terrorism by minimizing the likelihood of excessive US governmental involvement in the Arab world, then minimizing US dependence on oil is an effective longterm solution.

9> Likewise, if the US wants to be seen as a neutral party in the Arab world, it would be beneficial to "not play favorites" as regards Arabs or Israelis, and to redirect foriegn aid elsewhere, or to strictly humanitarian purposes.

10> Terrorism is caused by terrorists, and it is essential that they be held responsible for their actions. However, it is also reasonable to put some of the blame on leaders (such as Sharon or Bush) who incite terrorist violence by instigating violent acts themselves, in the same way we might blame someone who whacks a beehive with a stick in our presence.

11> No matter how at risk we are, we should put the threat of terrorism into its proper perspective. Not to minimize the horrific nature of 9/11, it's still important to realize that the greatest damage to our nation and our way of life was economic, not civilian or material. If we don't want to encourage terrorism, we should make it our goal to react quickly from an investigative or retaliatory standpoint, ideally with a swift, decisive campaign against just the terrorists themselves. Likewise, we should move rapidly to "get back to business" and restore public confidence in the economy, not letting terrorism distract us from important domestic issues.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:00 PM on November 20, 2003


BBC America is showing footage of the aftermath. It's utterly horrifying.

(The idiots at CNN and MSNBC have been showing nonstop footage of Michael Jackson's airplane all day. What the fuck is the matter with these people?)
posted by homunculus at 3:09 PM on November 20, 2003


It's that ol' devil moral equivalence again!
posted by y2karl at 3:36 PM on November 20, 2003


insomnia_lj - Your 11 points list ranks as my Metafilter comment of the month.
posted by troutfishing at 4:02 PM on November 20, 2003


On your recruiting point, all of you, let me counter with the words of an Iraqi, since they're more eloquent, and frankly, bear more weight, than mine. Ignore the words of those who this directly impacts if you like, but then, you have that luxury.

IN THE NAME OF GOD THE COMPASSIONATE THE MERCIFUL


Today, the terrorists in Istanbul answered the “peace” demonstrators in London. Those who have eyes can see, and those who have ears can hear, but there are those whom “God has sealed their hearts for them with a mask, so that they are deaf, dumb and blind and thus can hardly comprehend anything” (Verses to this effect recur frequently in the Holy Quran ) .

These London demonstrations, I know too well, Oh! Youth, and the Pint of Bitter later in the nearest Pub. All you peace lovers and humanitarians of trendy London town, spare a thought or two for the coalition soldier out there in the dark and wilderness guarding our hospitals, primary schools and orphanages from the bombers and assassins, and the Iraqi Police reporting everyday for duty under constant danger of death and mutilation with their poor equipment and meager $50 or so a month pay package. They number almost 100 000 by now and if enlistment is really opened up they would quadruple in number immediately. Why do you think they come? Saddamists pay anybody ten thousand dollars per explosion, and they are going around trying to recruit, and this is a fact that all people in Baghdad know. So why do they come, you think? But only those who have eyes can see, and ears can hear. Why do you think the crackle of celebratory gunfire ululated till dawn, on that sultry Baghdad summer night when the death of Uday and Qusay the monster brats of the tyrant was announced? This, the media did not dwell upon, although quite newsworthy and dramatic. That was the real Opinion Poll of the vast majority of the inhabitants of Baghdad.

posted by swerdloff at 6:18 PM on November 20, 2003


I can see that the discussion has moved away from the specific incident in Istanbul, but I wanted to mention my experience just for the sake of accuracy. I was born and raised in Istanbul and came to the US for college. I am also Jewish. This sort of violence has never happened in Turkey in my lifetime. Neve Shalom was attacked once when I was around 12 and it was terrifying then, too. But my religion has never been a serious issue in the country in my lifetime and my experiences are wonderful compared to those of many of my friends who grew up in countries around me.

So this sort of thing doesn't always happen in Turkey. These attacks were certainly not happening previously and as someone who has now received two 3am phone-calls in one week from her mom to let her know that they are all alive and well, I certainly hope they will not become a regular event.
posted by karen at 6:25 PM on November 20, 2003


swerdloff - who was that speaking there? Karen, above, has a real and authentic voice. For whom are you speaking?
posted by troutfishing at 7:32 PM on November 20, 2003


BBC America is showing footage of the aftermath. It's utterly horrifying.

(The idiots at CNN and MSNBC have been showing nonstop footage of Michael Jackson's airplane all day. What the fuck is the matter with these people?)
posted by homunculus at 8:09 PM on November


That's because we Americans value entertainment more than the things that really impact the world. Most of the time our media is neither liberal or conservative, just sensationalistic.
posted by whirlwind29 at 8:56 PM on November 20, 2003


It is funny how this thread about a bombing at Istanbul is mostly spent on discussing Bush and Blair's anti-terrorism strategy, when Al Qaeda's confusing act of bombing Turkey is at least just as perplexing as Bush's choice of attacking Iraq, from a strategic point of view.

mr_roboto did raise the point though:

The Turkish people were already skeptical about cooperating with America, and Islamic parties have been making progress within the political framework there. Don't these attacks risk turning the people's sympathies away from the Islamists and towards the U.S.? Is there some strategy at play here?

I think they do have a strategy, and I have a suggestion as to what that strategy is. I don't think their strategy has ever been one to sway people's sympathies or the international opinion. Their strategy is not immediately obvious to us, but all the pieces would fall into place if you try to adopt the fanatic Islamist mind-set for a second.

The terrorists responsible for this attack don't believe that they can win the war against the free world on their own without the help of Allah, their God, fighting on their side. So their main strategy is to convince Allah to fight for them, because without Allah they have no chance of winning, but with Allah's help the only possible outcome is victory. The people sympathies are secondary and in the end don't really matter - only Allah's opinion counts.

So Turkey was attacked precisely because there is a significant Islamic population there, and this population is being too tolerant of the non-Islams. They are too tolerant of a democratically structured government. They are not practicing Islam purely enough, and they don't follow Allah's teachings closely enough, therefore they are being detimental to the cause of the Islamic extremists.

The extremists believe that Allah will only help them if they can achieve purity in their resolve, so they view their fellow Islamists in Turkey as dragging them down. They have taken the liberty to punish these heretics on Allah's behalf, and hope that in doing so they would convince Him of their dedication and He would start helping them in their War on All Things Non-Islam (i.e. the evil United States).

As long as these Islamic terrorists are not winning, they will continue to think they haven't pleased Allah enough, and I speculate that they will continue to try this kind of stuff.

This is likely why there has been a rise in terror activities in Saudi Arabia, and, in my opinion, this is why Turkey was bombed, out of all places.
posted by VeGiTo at 9:08 PM on November 20, 2003


swerdloff: I'm assuming that you're also going to share the secret memos that prove Saddam was the one who strapped the Istanbul suicide bombers into their vans. Otherwise, it's akin to justifying the war on Iraq because you're the victim of IRA bombings.

And this is an ongoing tragedy for Turkey, a country founded on the principles that religion should be separate from the state. (And yes, that causes democratic frissons when people vote for Islamic parties, but that's its own issue.) I'd hope that the EU will offer aid, given the stance it has taken in its ongoing negotiations with the Turkish government. We shall see.

As long as these Islamic terrorists are not winning, they will continue to think they haven't pleased Allah enough, and I speculate that they will continue to try this kind of stuff.

Are we then to hope that they continue to lose, at a price of double-digit deaths every losing move? These targets were attacked because they were there, they were soft, and there were people with the funding, training and independence to carry it off. That's your rationale. As for your primary school empathy, stick it back in the sandpit.
posted by riviera at 9:49 PM on November 20, 2003


The Bush administration has characterized the anti-U.S. insurgency in Iraq as a last act of "desperation," and we heard the same thing echoed by the Saudis about the latest terrorist attack in Riyadh. Do you think this is an accurate assessment? Or are we perhaps witnessing the contrary -- a rising wave of a new regional effort by al-Qaida?

I'm not sure we have enough evidence to make either claim, but I don't know why anyone would draw the conclusion that al-Qaida is in a "desperate" stage now. It seems equally likely to me that they are recovering and showing new strength.

With so many resources focused on Iraq, is the U.S. effectively battling the terror threat elsewhere?

Definitely not. I think we've focused exclusively on the military aspects of the war on terrorism, and we've forgotten that terrorism is psychological warfare more than anything else. I believe we're not paying nearly enough attention to the psychological aspects of this war.

What should the U.S. be doing in that regard?

I think we must realize that we are competing with Saudi charities for hearts and minds. We have to realize that the war is indeed about ideas, and that our enemies are spreading their ideas through social welfare activities. We should learn from them, and compete with them in this regard. Iraq is absolutely pouring fuel on the fire.


from The chaos of war spreads to Saudi Arabia, Turkey
Terrorism expert Jessica Stern, a public policy lecturer at Harvard University and author of "Terror in the Name of God," says the recent bombings in Istanbul and Riyadh show that the U.S. war on terror is deeply flawed.


A Salon article--first you watch a commercial for Oklahoma, boo hoo hoo
posted by y2karl at 11:28 PM on November 20, 2003


The bombings in Turkey are baffling, as someone notes above it does nothing to serve what is presumed to be Al Qaeda's interests. The whole thing is bizarre.
posted by chaz at 11:48 PM on November 20, 2003


I actually went down to trafalgar square to check out the protest. I must say for peace protesters there was a lot of heart-felt hate and venom flying around. It was interesting though listening to Ron Kovac but most of the speakers seemed to rehash the same prostituted rhetoric, quite simply "Bush is bad" etcetera. It was also noticeable how TB's tone has changed, when questioned on the bombings that occured in Istanbul his answer was very bushesque, effectively you are either with us or against us, as Mark Mardell said (political correspondent for the BBC) he sounded more like bush than bush did himself.
posted by johnnyboy at 1:54 AM on November 21, 2003


"As long as these Islamic terrorists are not winning .... I speculate that they will continue to try this kind of stuff."

While the terrorists may be "not winning", that doesn't mean that they are losing either. US intelligence seems to suggest that they have more recruits than ever due to the current circumstances, and that they have regrouped considerably in recent months.

The terrorists have scared away the UN, humanitarian organizations, many foriegn troops, and a great deal of foriegn investment from Iraq. They've prevented the quick restoration of Iraq's oil revenues. They've forced their opposition into defensive positions, where they can't feel safe walking around in public, and isolated their leadership from the rest of Iraq. They've held "days of protest" with tacit threats to civilians who disobey -- and largely shut down Baghdad as a result. They've threatened collaborators, thereby greatly reducing coalition intelligence, which is flailing so bad that the US has to resort to shows of force (such as blowing up unoccupied buildings) and acts of collective punishment which raise the level of anger against our forces.

Under those circumstances, it is hard to say that the terrorists have been entirely unsuccessful.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:47 AM on November 21, 2003


Are we then to hope that they continue to lose, at a price of double-digit deaths every losing move?

No. We should kill as many terrorists as possible. Human behavior, even lunatic Islamist human behavior conforms to the broken window theory. Once enough of them had been killed (pre-suicide), the allure of terrorism will abate. WE also need to see to the replacement/assasination/removal of the governments of Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria. That'll reduce terrorism by 85%.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:51 AM on November 21, 2003


As usual, James Lileks sums it up just about perfectly (imho):

You already read it around the web – the bombings in Turkey were a response to Britain’s assistance for toppling Saddam; what did we expect? In other words: if we fight back, we get what we deserve. If we do not fight back, and we are attacked again, you can blame it on the crimes for which we have not yet sufficiently atoned. The only proper posture for the West is supine. Curl up and let them kick until they’re spent. Give them Israel and New York and perhaps they’ll go away.

This is either going to end on their terms, or ours. Which would you prefer?

Oh, there you go again with the us vs. them, the good vs. evil, the with-us-or-with-the-terrorists. But these aren’t my definitions; these are the definitions of the enemy. (Eyes roll; “enemy.” How dramatic.) They certainly believe it’s a matter of us vs. them; they’ve been acting that way for years before we caught on. They certainly believe it’s a matter of good vs. evil, although they believe they are Good. No - correction. They believe they are righteous. They obviously believe that sides have been drawn, allegiances chosen; why else kill Turks, for heaven’s sake? Yes, the attacks in Turkey were aimed at Jews and Crusaders, but they obviously knew there would be massive numbers of wounded Turks, and they didn’t care. The ones who are truly callous about the fate of other Muslims are the Muslim extremists. But, well, Muslims don’t kill Muslims, so the Mossad must have bombed the synagogues. QED.) I repeat: their terms or our terms.

posted by pardonyou? at 6:46 AM on November 21, 2003


Readers Digest Condensed Version.
posted by y2karl at 7:53 AM on November 21, 2003


In other words: if we fight back, we get what we deserve. If we do not fight back, and we are attacked again, you can blame it on the crimes for which we have not yet sufficiently atoned. The only proper posture for the West is supine. Curl up and let them kick until they’re spent. Give them Israel and New York and perhaps they’ll go away.... This is either going to end on their terms, or ours. Which would you prefer?

So, essentially, Lileks is agreeing with the notion that we're fucked no matter what we do but in a way that makes the people who've been pointing this out all along seem obnoxious and useless instead of people like him. Brilliant.

They'll do anything, so must we. They will try to win at no cost, so must we. The protestors who highlight our failures give comfort to the enemy. With us or against us.

Of course al_Qaeda thinks their mission is righteous, Jimmy. So do you.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:16 AM on November 21, 2003


One thing I haven't noticed here is that part of the security lapses in Iraq were caused by not sending the troops the generals thought would be sufficient.
Rummy felt he had a point to make: That the US in could take Iraq with a minimal amounts of troops and materiel, which was fine for dealing "Shock and Awe", but insufficient for sealing borders, policing the streets and restoring order etc. I think there was a brief window in the early summer to have gained the Iraqis trust and confidence, but with such an emaphasis placed on WMD's and a lack of clear planning, that chance was lost.
Iran will have the bomb soon. Pakistan and Turkey already have it. The course that Paris avocates would do nothing but lead to World War III. It's failure is seen in practically every newcast about the I/P conflict.
posted by black8 at 8:58 AM on November 21, 2003


"The course that Paris advocates would do nothing but lead to World War III. It's failure is seen in practically every newcast about the I/P conflict."

Did I miss something? Have French troops airdropped on Washington D.C. and taken over US foreign policy?

Do the French exert a secret, predominant influence on the Mideast because French spies are everywhere?

"In other words: if we fight back, we get what we deserve. If we do not fight back, and we are attacked again, you can blame it on the crimes for which we have not yet sufficiently atoned. The only proper posture for the West is supine." - Either James Lileks is simply dumb, or he's being fundamentally dishonest. This formulation can be plugged right into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as the Sharon government position : They bombed us! Bomb them back!

First of all, there is no them. I used to think more highly of Lileks - but this sort of lower-brainstem sloganeering.......

There are only population groups, cultures, factions.......whenever people start talking in "Us vs. Them" language, bombs start falling on people who, initially, were not initially hostile. Then after enough corpses pile up, after sufficient numbers of maimed and mutilated fill up the hospitals......the "them" which we feared so much is created.

Lileks should know this.

And he should know that there are courses other than 1) a "supine" posture or 2) The characterization of most of the Mideast as "them".

But I don't think he's that dumb, and so this is why I think he's being fundamentally dishonest.

But.......stbalbach drove this crude sort of thinking back to the hell from which it sprang in his, the first, comment in this discussion.

So again - Back, back, foul BEAST - THE POWER OF JESUS CHRIST COMPELS YOU ! GO BACK TO THE HELL WHICH AWAITS YOU ....THE POWER OF THE LORD COMPELS YOU ~

* brandishes cross, flings holy water *
posted by troutfishing at 9:36 AM on November 21, 2003


What I don't understand is why people like Lileks, who claim to be the defenders of all things that are great about America, is so freakin' scared and insecure! America can easily defeat these terrorists, by using all the means we have at our disposal. I find his rhetoric bordering on the insane, how do you constantly play the victim when you are the most powerful, best-educated, most-resourceful nation on earth?

Seriously I think this is the true Anti-Americanism, having no faith in the ability of your country to construct a better world, and resorting to the level of tin-horn terrorists in order to "win" some phony battle of civilizations. The world is such a lovely and amazing place, and America can do so much to enrich it... and yet some of its (supposedly) brightest minds are convinced that America is a victim who needs to sell its soul to survive. Well I say no-- there is no "their terms," there is only our terms. It's up to us, not "them". To even put it in that light is to create a weakness that does not exist.

Lileks believes that America got involved in radical politics on September 11th, and before that was an innocent babe in the woods, merrily strolling along, oblivious to all the bad stuff happening in the world. Then the whole world came crashing down and he's been crying ever since. Well buck up, girlie-man! Just because you were oblivious doesn't mean the rest of us were. We can handle this, we can handle a debate over the best way to proceed, we can handle different ideas, techniques, and tactics, and even protests over what the best way to proceed is. Maybe YOU can't handle it, but the nation can. Real patriots have faith in the nation's ability to withstand change, new ideas, debate, and friction. Petulant little dorks who are scared little babies cannot.
posted by cell divide at 10:02 AM on November 21, 2003


troutfishing, cell divide:

The "them" is radical Islamic fundamentalists. They want to kill me. They want to kill my daughter and my son. They'd kill you in a heartbeat if they had the opportunity -- even if you pleaded with them that you "understand" the source of their anger, and that you oppose U.S. policy. They'd shoot you, they'd explode you, they'd rot you from the inside out with a virus if they had half a chance. And they'd do it with a smile on their face.

This, to me, is the biggest gulf between people like myself (and, not to speak for him, Lileks), and so many on this site. I understand that reality. I don't proclaim (and neither does Lileks, notwithstanding troutfishing's claim that he was characterizing "most of the Mideast.") It's not most of the Mideast. It's not most Muslims. It's not even most fundamentalist Muslims. It's a small but deadly subgroup. They want what we can't let them have -- the elimination of Israel, the installation of theocratic dictatorships, the removal of Western influence and presence in the Middle East. Given that, they will not stop. There's no negotiating; there's no "middle ground" to reach. So Lileks' question is the right one: What then? It seems to me there are two options: Try to destroy them, or do nothing. Either way, they will continue to kill. At least with the former option, we stand a chance of doing something about it.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:46 AM on November 21, 2003


Try to destroy them, or do nothing. Either way, they will continue to kill. At least with the former option, we stand a chance of doing something about it.

"Try to destroy them": now there's a well-formulated geopolitical strategy!

Look, pardonyou?, no one, absolutely no one on this site or elsewhere in the industrial Western democracies thinks that we should "do nothing" to combat terrorism. To present "do nothing" as the only option to status quo policy is the worst kind of disingenuous rhetoric. Do you really think that the only alternative to Bush administration anti-terror policy is to do nothing? If so, you're an idiot.

Those of us who want to see the approach to the "war on terror" changed want this not because we want to give comfort to the terrorists, or negotiate with the terrorists, or (here's a liberal strawman you should recognize) because we want to appreciate the terrorists' cultural world view. We simply believe that the Bush administration is pursuing a policy that is not effective in combating terrorism. The invasion of Iraq was an irresponsible waste of resources and a major blow to international cooperation at a time when we need such cooperation desperately in order to "try to destroy" the terrorists.

Do you really think, even for a moment, that we (I don't know who exactly I'm speaking for here: those opposed to Bush's foreign policy in general, the strawman opposition of Lileks' rant...) want to offer terrorists a middle ground? They stand against everything we believe in: they are fascists and murderers of the worst kind. And we're pissed that the U.S. government is failing to fight them effectively.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:24 AM on November 21, 2003


Pardonyou, I basically agree with you. Where do you find disagreement in my words? I am only saying that the tactic of destruction is just one (and perhaps one of the smallers ones) of the arrows in the quiver. It has been proven time and time again that getting into a blood feud with a far weaker opponent is not the way to go. Killing killers is a good idea, making it the "only option" is a terrible one. Proclaiming yourself to be a victim, whose only choice is to unleash death and destruction, when there are clearly other, more intelligent avenues, is sick. It sells the nation short.
posted by cell divide at 11:41 AM on November 21, 2003


do you really think that the alternative to bush administration anti-terror policy is to do nothing? if so, you're an idiot.

Fine. I'm an idiot. What's your alternative? Not just you, mr_roboto, but anyone. I've been waiting more than two years for someone to explain to me an alternative that is more likely to result in a decrease in terrorism.

So far in this thread, I've heard "Combat terrorism through police work" and "We should give more money to the Middle East for clean air and clean water and bring them out of poverty, then they'll like us." You'll forgive my laughter.

It's very easy to be against something. It's much, much harder to turn that opposition into a constructive suggestion.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:48 AM on November 21, 2003


My comment above. Clark's strategy PDF for fighting Al Qaeda. Both of these strategy approaches are better stated and more considered than the Bush administration's ham-fisted anti-terror semi-policy.

It seems the problem is, pardonyou?, that you're not paying attention.

The Bush strategy is indefensible; the war in Iraq has been a terrible waste of resources: economic, military, and diplomatic. How's this for an alternative: turn Iraq over to international control so that American resources can be used to fight terrorism.

Seriously: you're claiming that the only alternative to the status quo is to do absolutely nothing about the terrorist threat? Can't you see that as an absurd position?
posted by mr_roboto at 12:16 PM on November 21, 2003


It's very easy to be against something.

Well, you've made a fucking art form out of it, haven't you? I mean, after all, we can't even suggest that maybe terrorism, albeit horrible, might have an explanation to its actions just slightly more complex than "they want to kill us all" or "they hate our freedom" or "they've all the spawn of Sauron who wishes evil to encompass the Realm of Man" means we think there's moral equivalence obviously making our peacenik insanity far beyond the potential of your enlightened reach, right?

I'm fascinated how you can say something like "I've been waiting more than two years for someone to explain to me an alternative that is more likely to result in a decrease in terrorism" and then blame everyone else for not having an excuse for its increase given your summation of the problem in tones like that. No wonder you keep asking for ideas; you're the one insistent that "there's no middle ground."

No, you're not an idiot. But you're playing one in this conversation if your basis for fighting terrorism centralizes around some aura of movie-style "bad guy-ism" in which they're all evil for no reason and no desire to care just why they're doing what they're doing. Come back with the "what's the alternative" line when you've realized that terrorism, as well as its grounding and construct, isn't a single-celled organism with a formula as rigid and expected as the ingredients on the side of a box of pasta and can actually have an argument other then "well why don't YOU tell me what's wrong with killing everyone?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:34 PM on November 21, 2003


Seriously: you're claiming that the only alternative to the status quo is to do absolutely nothing about the terrorist threat? Can't you see that as an absurd position?

Of course that's not my claim. The only alternative to the status quo is a plan that is likely to be more effective. I'm not even saying I think we've necessarily found the best policy. But with all due respect, you give way too much credit to the governments of Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, etc., if you think they would have great impact in "rooting out" terrorists within their borders. Hell, we can't even get our "good friends" the Saudis to help. In fact, I can't think of anything much more destabalizing than having governments trying to suppress their own Islamic fundamentalists -- and don't think they don't realize that. The House of Saud certainly does.

We have a fundamental disagreement, you and I. You put a lot of weight in "international cooperation." I don't. I think it's helpful if you can get it, but the interests of other countries aren't always aligned with ours. Hell, we had "international cooperation" out the wazoo in the '91 Gulf War, and by all accounts that's the war that sparked bin Laden and his brand of terror.

(on preview: I sure do get under your skin, XQ, don't I?)
posted by pardonyou? at 12:43 PM on November 21, 2003


pardonyou - I actually said that police work - using local police - was generally preferable to invading and occupying countries and so giving Al Qaeda and local terrorist-insurgents a fantastic opportunity to recruit every 18 year old native male in hormonal overdrive to the cause of taking potshots at the invaders or driving suicide-bomb trucks .

In short, occupying other people's countries is just plain dumb if it is at all avoidable. A recent study has shown that nearly all the insurgent and terrorist movements in known history arose in reaction to occupations by foreign armies. Surprise, surprise. So if one IS going to invade, if the invason is truly avoidable, it is wisest to use troops which speak the native language and understand the native culture to the greatest extent possible.

My hypothetical suggestion - about how the hundreds of billions being spent in Iraq could have otherwise been used - was actually to address the problems of all the world's poorest - at a very basic level - and so prevail over terrorists by PR.

The funny thing is that American spawned modern PR but the "Islamo-Fascists" of Al Qaeda now seem to have a much more effective grasp of the art than the Americans under GW Bush - who are routinely jerked around by the machinations of Al Qaeda like puppets on strings.

You see, Al Qaeda wins recruits due to the growing hatred of America - which the Bush Administration is doing nothing at all to address. Quite the opposite, in fact.
posted by troutfishing at 12:51 PM on November 21, 2003


Of course that's not my claim.

Then you probably shouldn't have written it.

And if you think that U.S. intellegence agencies, with their deplorable record of infiltrating and predicting the behavior of terrorist organizations, are sufficient to fight global terror on their own, then, well, I admire your faith.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:57 PM on November 21, 2003


In fact, I can't think of anything much more destabilizing than having governments trying to suppress their own Islamic fundamentalists -- and don't think they don't realize that. The House of Saud certainly does.

So, what, having another government come in to suppress their Islamic fundamentalists for them will be more stabilizing? Or will this equation magically change when we turn them into democracies? Taking into consideration that a democracy imposed from outside is going to be less "legitimate" than a democracy that arises from an internal movement of course.

I do not understand what purpose a unilateralist approach is going to serve here. It's all well and good to talk about destroying terrorists but if you can't see them you're screwed.
posted by furiousthought at 2:07 PM on November 21, 2003


I've been waiting more than two years for someone to explain to me an alternative that is more likely to result in a decrease in terrorism.

Why don't you bother to read a link now and then--like the one from where this quote I pasted above came:

I think we must realize that we are competing with Saudi charities for hearts and minds. We have to realize that the war is indeed about ideas, and that our enemies are spreading their ideas through social welfare activities. We should learn from them, and compete with them in this regard. Iraq is absolutely pouring fuel on the fire.

You seem to be playing a variation of Why don't you, yes but... here. Is this about terrorism or is this about you making yourself right by making everyone else wrong?
posted by y2karl at 2:55 PM on November 21, 2003


I do not understand what purpose a unilateralist approach is going to serve here...

The purpose served is to get the job done, when hoped-for allies are to feckless, short-sided weak and/or corrupt to be allies.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:28 PM on November 21, 2003


And, apart from producing the world's most expensive Al Qaeda recruiting commercial, what 'job' has gotten done?
posted by y2karl at 7:11 PM on November 21, 2003


Perhaps the job was to boost the short term stock prices of Halliburton and other Bush Administration connected corporations?
posted by troutfishing at 7:44 PM on November 21, 2003


your both got "pixie" voices don't you?
posted by clavdivs at 6:36 PM on November 22, 2003


clavdivs - good one. But I've got a deep voice.
posted by troutfishing at 9:31 PM on November 23, 2003


its the "Dixie" voices I am worried about.
posted by johnnyboy at 3:33 AM on November 25, 2003


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